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Now more than ever, Burquitlam needs to watch out for its interests
For years, Burquitlam believed its voice wasn't heard.
Now, with the Evergreen Line being built straight through the neighbourhood — and high-density housing being along with it — the Burquitlam Community Association (BCA) says it's finally getting noticed.
And it's busier than ever, responding to the massive growth in the gentrifying area of west Coquitlam.
"There are some weeks I put in 20 hours of volunteer time just to keep up," BCA president Graham Hill said. "Our community is changing so fast and we have to be there for our residents and our businesses."
Over the past year, BCA has checked off many successes. City staff go to BCA to consult on planning bids more often, Hill said, and developers are also using BCA's local expertise when designing housing projects and dealing with low-income tenants.
But BCA, which has about 4,000 homes and businesses in a catchment area spanning from Austin Avenue to the Port Moody border, said its contact with the Evergreen Line project team has been limited. Monthly meetings haven't happened, although Evergreen has said its lines are open to BCA.
BCA member Don Violette said the rapid-transit route, due to open in the summer of 2016, has already had a major impact. Burquitlam Plaza retailers are suffering with a decline in shoppers and public transit users are having a tough time making their way around the construction. Lobbying efforts have fallen on deaf ears at TransLink, BCA members say.
Also on BCA's radar these days is crime, which they say is up, with theft from the community gardens, theft from vehicles and break-ins, and the pending relocation of the community police station at Burquitlam Plaza.
As well, Violette said Burquitlam is in dire need of a gas station since the Evergreen Line construction resulted in removal of the Petro-Can, Shell and Mohawk sites around the Como Lake Avenue and Clarke Road intersection.
Changes to traffic patterns and maintaining green spaces — as well as advocating for a recreation complex — are also hot topics, especially as the city updates the Burquitlam/Lougheed Neighbourhood Plan next year.
All of which will keep the BCA busy for the next few years.
That's why Hill hopes the next association executive — due to be elected an an annual general meeting tomorrow (Thursday) — will have some some knowledge in the areas of development, crime and public transit. BCA is looking for a new president, secretary and two directors to be on the 2014 board.
"We believe we are finally making progress and we want that to continue," Hill said. "There's so much to do as Burquitlam evolves."
• The Burquitlam Community Association's annual general meeting will be held Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at Miller Park elementary school, 800 Egmont Ave., Coquitlam. For more information on BCA, visit burquitlam.org.